Imagine a ship carrying goods in containers that, if lined up, would stretch around 11,000 miles long, or nearly halfway around the planet. Rose George spent several weeks aboard one such ship as research for her new book, Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car and Food on Your Plate.
The Sherpa people of Nepal have become famous for guiding mountain climbers up some of the world's highest peaks, especially Mount Everest. And while Sherpa guides earn relatively good pay for their work, they and their families pay a price in death and injury. According to Grayson Schaffer, a senior editor and writer for Outside magazine, a Sherpa working above Everest's base camp is nearly 10 times more likely to die than a commercial fisherman, the most dangerous, nonmilitary occupation in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Valerie June wants to be on your mind; to get inside your head. She writes or co-writes songs that mix blues, gospel, folk and soul, and which describe emotional isolation, financial deprivation and insecurity about her place in the world. She's unafraid to proclaim her neediness — perhaps because, possessed of a powerful voice, she knows that her vulnerability isn't likely to come off as passive or self-pitying on Pushin' Against a Stone.
If you're like me, you probably feel exhausted just thinking about how much cultural stuff is out there. A friend recently told me he was reading an acclaimed Hungarian novelist whose books I've never opened. "Please tell me he stinks," I begged, "so I don't have to read him."
"Actually, he's great," came the reply, and I groaned. This was something I didn't want to know.